NYC-Based Executive MBA Programs Present Women’s Panel on Executive Education

Prospective students gained valuable insights into the unique experience of female executives at a special panel hosted by Cornell’s Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program and Executive MBA Metro NY program. Alumnae and current students from both programs shared their journeys in navigating an executive master’s program and its lasting impact on their careers and professional networks.

The panel was moderated by Nicole Woodard, senior associate director of executive MBA career development.

Panelists included Bahia El Yafi (MBA ’20), CEO of Easy Intellectual Property; Louise Loyst (MBA ’21), former executive director of engineering business development at Dayton T. Brown, Inc.; Amy Melser Fishman (MBA, MS ’23), director of advertising sales at WebMD; and Tracey Volz (MBA, MS ’21), assistant vice president of sponsored research operations at NYU Langone Health.

The collaborative structure of Cornell’s programs and the opportunity to interact with intelligent and diverse perspectives were what initially attracted many of the panelists. “I wanted to be around like-minded executives, so Cornell was the place to go,” shared El Yafi.

The programs’ intensive and fast-paced nature also proved to be a double-edged sword for students juggling coursework, a career, and home life. “I am a mother of three daughters. The challenge I had was making sure that I had buy-in with my family and all the other responsibilities in my life,” explained Loyst. “As women, we take on so much. I wanted to make sure I had balance.”

Overcoming imposter syndrome, or second-guessing one’s abilities, was another common obstacle cited by the panelists.

“It’s great to be forced into these classroom scenarios where you can see that everyone contributes in their own way,” explained Volz. “I think it helps build a lot of your confidence and reminds yourself of what you can do.”

Finding one’s voice in a group setting was also empowering, according to Melser Fishman. “I tend to fall into the category of not always speaking up for myself and that just doesn’t work while in a team setting; this program gave me the tools to navigate these challenges and I’m forever grateful to carry them throughout my career.”

In the few years since they first enrolled in their respective programs, the panelists have already made significant strides in their career paths. “I came in wanting entrepreneurship and I ended up doing it. The program gave me the validation that I can do it on my own,” said El Yafi.

“There was such an immediate applicability in what you learn,” stated Volz. “Not just what we are learning in the core curriculum, but something we don’t appreciate as much as women, what we refer to as soft skills. What really resonated with me and changed me as a leader, especially in the past three years with COVID, has been interpersonal skills. How you build relationships is the key to everything. That’s what keeps you doing all these innovative, entrepreneurial changes.”

Building strong relationships within the cohorts themselves was also a highlight. “Having conversations with my peers helped me learn how to level up my career. Being able to easily talk to a friend in the cohort at a pharma company or a biotech startup has been immensely helpful,” said Melser Fishman.

“You think you’re going in with these goals, but you also leave with an amazing cohort. These are forever friendships, not just personally but for your professional growth and guidance,” added Loyst.

The Cornell Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Program is a dual-degree program created by two powerhouses in graduate education—the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences— that focuses on building general management skills and developing a deeper understanding of the healthcare industry. Learn more about the program here.

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